Robert Christgau:
Expert Witness

Jason Derulo / Chromeo / Pharrell / Cherub / will.i.am / Prince


Jason Derulo: Talk Dirty

(Warner Bros.)

If I promise I won’t quote myself again for a year will you let me remind you that Derulo’s specialty is “pragmatically carnal sex so mind-blowing that three times he proposes matrimony behind it”? I can’t resist, because beyond how he was a songwriter before he was a songsinger, that’s all I came in knowing about Derulo except the Ian Nieman “club mix” of “Ridin’ Solo” I put on my singles list in 2010. (Whaddaya mean, who’s he? That Ian Nieman.) The median number of songwriters on these 11 tracks is five, and almost every one of the 11 keeps the addictive promise of “Ridin’ Solo.” Balkan Beat Box funks up the booty-owning ingenue whose opening bid is a sweet “Jason! Hee-hee-hee!” Snoop confides to the next booty proprietor, “Damn, baby, you got a bright future behind you.” Timbaland induces his assigned booty to pop like bubblegum. And the tush twerks on for 38 minutes. But it’s Derulo whose ebullience convinces me that he’s dealing confidence not arrogance, pleasure not power. And it’s Derulo whose “I swear that I will mean it” seals the soaring “Marry Me,” a proposal at least as sincere as Al Green’s once was and probably more so. A


Chromeo: White Women

(Atlantic/Big Beat)

As postmodern lover boys go, David Macklovitch and Patrick Gemayel—let’s get those sexy surnames in the lead!—are humorous and humane, and their songwriting has never been more worthy of Dave 1's Ph.D. in French lit. Never been catchier, either. The first four tracks don’t quit—delectate “Over Your Shoulder”’s A-cup sex object, or the “Sexy Socialite” they wish was a socialist. A sadder and staider Solange, whose light-footed walk-on gave their third-album slump a bump, passes her spangled baton to special guest star Ezra Koenig, whose two-minute cameo promises a boutique sideline in DeBarge covers. True enough—it’s only synthy dance-pop with guitar embellishments, by Canadians yet. But what’s also true is that the last four tracks don’t quit either. A MINUS


Pharrell Williams: Girl (Columbia) When your classic hit DLs over six million domestic and its worthy follow-up barely clears 35 thousand, you’re right to figure there’s a differential, but believe me, it’s less than 17,500 percent (“Happy,” “Marilyn Monroe”) ***

Jason Derulo: Future History (Warner Bros.) Definitely not as dumb as he pretends to think he is (“Breathing,” “It Girl”) ***

Cherub: Year of the Caprese (Columbia) “Nashville’s own risqué, electro-pop duo” squeeze everything they learned clubbing their way hornily to music business degrees into less than 50 minutes (“Disco Shit,” “Strip to This,” “Doses & Mimosas”) **

will.i.am: #Willpower (Interscope) “What do you see in the future?” “I see . . . partyin’” (“Hello,” “Geekin’”) **

Prince: Art Official Age (Warner Bros./NDG) Our greatest composer-performer of romantic nu-funk erotica wakes up 40 years later wishing he was Janelle Monae (“Breakfast Can Wait,” “Funknroll”) *


Follow Robert Christgau on Twitter at @rxgau.
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